As Esmeralda been adapted for different versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, she has wore red a lot.

Esmeralda & Phoebus Illustartion picture image

Esmeralda & Phoebus Illustartion

The first couple adaptations La Esmeralda (the opera and the Ballet)  her costumes has red details.

Costume design for La Esmeralda Opera 1831 picture image

Costume design for La Esmeralda Opera 1831

 

In 1839, Belgium Painter, Antoine Wiertz depicted her in all red.

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wiertz

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wiertz

In 1870 ballerina, Adelina Patti, is depicted in a costume with a red skirt. The Ballets runs the gambit of colors from blue to green to pink though red seems to be the popular color choice.

Adelina Patti as Esmeralda 1870 picture image

Adelina Patti as Esmeralda 1870

 

Paloma Herrera as La Esmeralda Ballet picture image

Paloma Herrera as La Esmeralda Ballet

La Esmeralda Ballet picture image

La Esmeralda Ballet

La Esmeralda Ballet with Phoebus picture image

La Esmeralda Ballet with Phoebus

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not till we get to the movies that we see red surfacing as the dominate color for her. The 1923 movie has at least two instances of a colorized posters one is yellow and purple and the other has red details.

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Lon Chaney

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Poster picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923 Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1939 despite Walter Plunkett’s design being mostly blue with red details and a red vest the coloration of her dress on a poster is all red.

Walter Plunkett design Costume for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Plunkett’s costume design for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though to be fair there are a few posters  where she wears green and blue, but there is more red.

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939 Poster picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939 Poster

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Movie poster for 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1956 version Esmeralda wears all red for most of the movie.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956

But I find it curious that she wears yellow at her ill-fated meeting with Phoebus over red.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 picture

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956 picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda Hunchback of Notre Dame 1956

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1996 Disney version Esmeralda wears red during her dance performance but for most part she wears purple.  I do have to wonder if Anne-Marie Bardwell had something to do with Esmeralda wearing purple throughout the movie as she was  credited in Character Design/ Visual Development and one of the animators on Esmeralda.

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image red dress

Esmeralda Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame Dancing

Though she wears red/dark pink in Der Glockner von Notre Dame the German musical.

 

Esmeralda dancing Der Glöckner von Notre Dame Picture Image

Esmeralda Dancing Der Glöckner von Notre Dame

 

 

In Notre Dame de Paris Esmeralda wears green but there is one red dress that was wore  for advertising for the London cast and the 2001 French cast. This dress is only wore once on stage in the Russian version during her meeting with Phoebus. And even in the 2010/2011 concerts Helene Segara wore red to sing the musical.

Tina Arena As Esmeralda in the Promotional Red Dress Notre Dame de Paris 2000 London Castpicture image

Tina Arena As Esmeralda in the Promotional Red Dress Notre Dame de Paris 2000 London Cast

Helene Segara performing Bohemienne at Bercy Concert picture image

Helene Segara performing Bohemienne at Bercy Concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently in the new illustration novel by Benjamin Lacombe and the  Graphic Novel by Robin Recht and Jean Bastide, Esmeralda wears red.

Esmeralda by Benjamin Lacombe Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda by Benjamin Lacombe Notre Dame de Paris

Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris Graphic Novel by Robin Recht and Jean Bastide picture image

Esmeralda Notre Dame de Paris Graphic Novel by Robin Recht and Jean Bastide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you look at all these instances, why is red her default color? Is it because green is too obvious for her given that her name means Emerald and red is opposite color to green making it the non-obvious choice? Seems a rather simplistic design notion for a costume, especially when one thinks that the color red is in total opposition to her as character.

Esmeralda Statuette by Armani picture image

Esmeralda Statuette by Armani

 

The color red typically is associated in Western cultural with  passion, desire, love and sexuality. Esmeralda’s personality is lighthearted, innocent, naive and modest. She doesn’t seem the type character to outwardly express her sexuality because even though she inspires desire in others, she herself is unaware of it.

Red is also in opposition of Esmeralda’s allegorical role as the Virgin Mary who traditionally wears either wears blue or turquoise.

Red also seems to age Esmeralda, her main point of interest in the novel is her youth, blue and green are more youthful colors but red comes off as mature.

Finally in the Romani culture, red is a color of ill omen as it’s associated with Blood (The Lure of the Gypsy Culture ) Though maybe the costume is meant her to  be ironic like she is subconsciously giving her in to tragic fate, though she lives more often than she dies and I don’t think the costume designers are that clever or that cerebral.

Shirel as Esmeralda in the Red with Laurent Ban as Phoesbus Notre Dame de Paris 2001 French Cast picture image

Shirel as Esmeralda in the Red with Laurent Ban as Phoesbus Notre Dame de Paris 2001 French Cast

 

However, maybe this whole matter is quite simple, does Esmeralda wear red in the book?
In the book there are  only a few instances where her clothing is described. When Gringoire first sees her, she is wearing a golden bodice (Book 2 chapter 3 Kisses for Blows) Frollo mentions that she wears blue when he first saw her dance (Book 8 chapter 4 Lasciate Ogni Speranza) and of course she wears white in the later part of the story when she condemn to die and brought into Notre Dame.

I think there maybe an instance of her wearing a multicolored skirt but I can’t find the instance in the book and her necklace that contains her baby shoe is stung with red seed beads,  other that she does not wear red. So why is she in red since red is in total opposition to her as character and there is no precedence for it in the novel.

Auguste Couder's Painting of Frollo stabbing Phoebus picture image

Auguste Couder’s Painting of Frollo stabbing Phoebus

If Esmeralda doesn’t wear in the book and it’s a color that is against every aspect of her character why does red seem to be the color of choice for her.

One reason I think is red is an easy color choice to make for when a character is suppose to stand out and be thought as desirable. There might be another level, Esmeralda is a Gypsy, this gives her an sense of exoticism and one popular style of art in the 19th century was Orientalism. Orientalism in art meant depicted exotic sense from place that were exotic to Europeans. The paintings use a lot of rich colors and a lot of red especially for women.

Une Beaute Prientale by Paul de la Boulaye picture image

Une Beaute Prientale by Paul de la Boulaye

 

So her being in red could mean that the costume designers are saying Esmeralda is an exotic beauty who is sexual desirable even though Victor Hugo meant for Esmeralda to work against the stereotype, why else would he have Gringoire said this to Frollo about her;

I certainly  consider it a great rarity to find such nun-like prudery fiercely maintained in the midst of those gipsy girls, who are so easily tamed” (Book 7, chapter 2). Esmeralda’s purity is part of her allure and to have her wearing red more less bastardizes the point of  her character

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wilhelm Marstrand

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wilhelm Marstrand

Red is just the wrong color for Esmeralda as a character and is it far too over done to be her dominant color anymore, details are fine but it’s too much red  but in over 170 years worth of adaptations it has become a boring cliche. I think this  is a cliche that need to at very least ebb. Costume designers of newer Hunchback adaptions if you read this please consider using different colors and if you must use red make it details or at the very least  try a different tone it doesn’t always have to fire engine red.

Esmeralda and Frollo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Esmeralda mocks Frollo Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Let me first say that I love costumes, I’m a sucker for period films with their pretty costumes. With that being said, with one major exception, the costumes in the 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” are middle of the road. They help define the setting of the story and characters. But most of the costumes are not recognizable within film nostalgia (save for one).

Walter Plunkett's design for Esmeralda 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Plunkett's design for Esmeralda

The costumes were designed by Walter Plunkett. Don’t know who Walter Plunkett is? Well even if you don’t know his name you may know his costumes, Walter Plunkett was the costume designer for “Gone with the Wind”. Perhaps designing grandiose Southern Belle/Victorian bustles is a tad more fun than designing costumes for medieval Parisian and Gypsies.  To the film’s credit it did have a ton of extras to cloth and they all look their parts.

 

Esmeralda's Maureen O'hara first costume 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Esmeralda's first costume

Esmeralda's second costume Maureen O'hara 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Esmeralda's second costume

Movie Poster Esmeralda Quasimodo 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame  picture image

Movie Poster featuring Esmeralda's costume in color

Esmeralda– The Gypsy Girl, obviously a gypsy dresses differently than a non-gypsy medieval person, how else can she be so easily identified? Esmeralda gets about three costumes though one is a plain white linen chemise she wears before she’s almost hanged. Her costumes are stylized and by no means accurate, like most costumes in movies, it’s time’s interpretation of whatever period the film is depicting. Esmeralda’s main dress is a long skirt with some patch work detail, a blouse (I suppose it’s moonlighting as a chemise) it looks like it has a slight sheen and also has fringe detail and a corset with some spangle detail. As for accessories she has a necklace and bracelet and of course being a gypsy dancer a tambourine. Her second outfit is a blouse with an embroidery detail at the neck and on the sleeves. She sports a long skirt with more embroidery. She also has a belt with a rather large buckle and a head scarf. Both of these design are derived from Plunkett’s design. As for the color of these costumes my guess would be her main one is red (though one movie has it’s a as purple and another movie poster has it as red) and I would guess her performance outfit is a blue skirt and a white blouse (though who can tell through shades of grey but the two costume are different shades of grey. Her costumes do read gypsy but they’re not overly gimmicky.

 

Quasimodo make-up Charles Laughton 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Close up of Quasimodo's make-up

Quasimodo on the Pillory Chalres laughton 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Quasimodo's Hunch

King of Fools Quasimodo 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

The Crown for the King of Fools

Quasimodo – As I mention there was a major exception to the run of the milliness of the costumes and while technically this applies to make up it still counts. The make-up for Laughton’s Quasimodo was masterful. A collaboration between Laughton and Make-up artist Perc Westmore and costed $10,000. Laughton & Westmore went through numerous versions and they were rejected by Laughton. He wanted his face loop-sided, so a mask had to pull the right side of face up and the left side down. A false eye was placed on his cheek and Laughton wore a colored contact in his right eye to make it look cloudy. The hump weighted 4 pounds and made of aluminum scaffold filled with a foam rubber and covered with a thin layer of elastic. Laughton wanted it to be heavy so that he could feel physical pain of walking. He also had an inch added to the sole of his left show so one leg would be shorter that other creating a natural limb. (this information is from Maureen O’Hara’s book “‘Tis Herself”). For Quasimodo the only requirement is the physical look and Notre Dame, Quasimodo can be in Tux and you would know who it is. One more thing on Quasimodo’s get-up, the King of Fool crown is a nice blend of a crown and jester’s hat.

 

Jehan Frollo  Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Frollo's costume

Frollo – The villain, he wears all black and has a severe look, straight almost square cut to the hair  (he’s a squareロ ). It looks to me that he wears velvet which is the blackest fabric and there is very little details to break up the costume so it looks like stab of black. He has a hat that has a built in cowl and has a fur trim a round his neck. All black, all severe, all rich fabric, his character is very clear  he’s rich, powerful and EVIL (or just an antagonist).

 

King Louis XI  Harry Davenport 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

King Louis's Costume

Louis– I’m going to mention Louis because he’s a counterpoint for Frollo because Louis also wears all black but he has many details to break it so the black reads as a power color and not evil. He looks like a medieval kings, some regalia but more casual. He also sports a hat with jewelry, more jewelry, and a fur vest. Black but approachable  yet kingly.


Gringoire Performing Edmond O'brein 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Gringoire as a Harlequin

Clopin with hat Thomas Mitchell 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Clopin's Feather Hat

Phoebus in armor Alan Marshal 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Phoebus in armor (on left)

Archdeacon Claude Frollo Walter Hampden 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Archdeacon Claude in less than period vestments

The Rest – Gringoire and Clopin wear pretty standard tunics nothing too special except Clopin has a big old feather in his hat. Gringoire also get a harlequin outfit for his performance at the party and it’s pretty standard.  Phoebus a suit of armor and it looks very silly. Phoebus also has some party garb it a cape and tunic basically none special not like his armor.  Claude the Archdeacon’s costumes looks more current(even by modern standards) than what a priest of 1400’s would have wore.

 

 

The buckle 1939 Maureen O'hara Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

The Buckle on Esmeralda's costume

Female Extras 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Extras with 30's hairstyles

Fleur de Lys Helene Whiteney 1939 Hunchback of Notre dame picture image

Fleur in Chiffon

Finally being a film from the late 30’s there are costumes and accessories peppered throughout the movie that look more 30’s than medieval. Claude’s vestment (seen above), Esmeralda’s belt buckle (belts were more for swords not fashion), the extra’s hairstyle (note the length and curls) and Fleur, a glorified extra that gets a name, her dress screams late 30 design so much so that it stands out in my mind despite the fact that you only see it for a moment. The dress is made from what I can guess is a chiffon. Chiffon is not even remotely a fabric that would have been used in the 1400s. Chiffion was invented in the 18th. (Fun fact – Chiffon is french for “rag”).

More on another aspect of Mise-en-secene next time – Acting